Research shows consumer demand for transparency on food

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Transparency in the food industry is a growing topic of conversation and, in order to continue to effectively communicate with consumers about the food they grow and raise, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) conducted research to hone in on the topic of food transparency, specifically how important it is to American consumers. 

According to the survey, food transparency is very important. Fifty-nine percent of respondents report it is extremely important (rated it as an 8-10 on a 10 point scale) for grocery stores and restaurants to provide information about the way the food they sell is grown and raised. And over 50 percent say they want more information than they are currently getting.

The good news is that farmers and ranchers across the country have the information consumers are asking for. However, it needs to be shared.

“The call for transparency from the American consumer is real,” said Katie Pratt, an Illinois farmer and one of USFRA’s Faces of Farming and Ranching. “However, as an agriculture community, we have the tools, the real-life experiences and the stories to share with those who purchase the food we grow and raise.  And we can continue to increase consumer confidence in our great systems of American agriculture.”

“Information about how a food product was grown and raised is important for consumers. It’s almost as important as the price,” said Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation and USFRA Chairman. “The research found that when asked which is more important when making purchasing decisions, how much a food item costs or how much information is available about how it was grown or raised, 45 percent of total survey respondents chose information and 55 percent chose cost. That is significant.”

Not only is the statistic significant, but it is not going away any time soon. In fact, the research found that younger shoppers (ages 21-29) are more likely to purchase one food item over another based on which item includes more information about its origin. And, the findings show that most consumers do not believe they are currently provided enough information about food when making purchasing

The research findings encourage a shift in how the agriculture community can think about transparency; this can happen through a transition to “Transparency 2.0.” For the American consumer, trust in the agriculture community is based in truth and all farmers and ranchers have a narrative to share. There is a truthful and transparent story to tell in how all farmers and ranchers grow and raise food.

For more information on “Transparency 2.0” and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, as well as to join in the conversation of how food is grown and raised in the U.S. today, visit

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Ames, IA  |  December, 10, 2013 at 05:04 PM

“Information about how a food product was grown and raised is important for consumers. It’s almost as important as the price,” ^^This doesn't surprise me at all. I am curious, though, whether the buyers want 'official' programs (organic, Certified Naturally Grown, Certified Humane, etc) or are just as convinced by a label of "grass-fed" or "natural" or a small blurb on the label about the farm. Basically, do people trust a farmer's own label and writing, or is certification the way to go? My sense is that not many consumers know what labels (perhaps aside from organic) really mean.

T. Glennie    
Montana  |  December, 10, 2013 at 06:42 PM

This research is why we need COOL. It seems odd that the American Farm Bureau Federation is against COOL. Consumers want to know the origin of their meat.

new york  |  December, 11, 2013 at 06:11 AM

I love these questions that are so general that the authors can then twist the meaning to further their goal. And that goal is control. If they are going to use this to push more best practices without providing some form of compensation to the producers than even more small to medium size farms will go by the wayside. You cannot expect the farmer to bare the majority of the financial burden without compensating them for it. If the consumer truly wants certain practices be followed then they will need to pony up the cash. I agree that some form of COOL should be enacted at my local grocer there is a sign over the meat counter that says products from one or more of the following countries and then lists several countries.

Ames, IA  |  December, 11, 2013 at 08:29 AM

RE: COOL - okay, but if your steak was born in Canada and fed out in the US, or born and fed out in Canada but processed in the US, does that make a difference to you? That's what COOL is arguing about at the moment. Absolutely agreed that if more information and labelling and certification is desired, then people had better be willing to pay for it. Which, most surveys indicate, people are not.

Iowa  |  December, 11, 2013 at 10:55 PM

The survey is nonsense. If you give a bunch of people a blank sheet of paper and ask the to list 10 things that are "extremely important", food transparency would not even make the list.

SD  |  December, 12, 2013 at 01:34 PM

COOL is an interesting concept. Like many such schemes, 'the devil is in the details'. In quite a number of consumer/producer focus groups, consumers would like to know who the rancher or farmer is who produced the food animal. That information was NOT favored by those who promoted COOL from an idea to a law! They claimed it could be used by those 'evil-in-their-minds' packers to pay less for live cattle, for one thing, and to throw the blame for any problems found with meat back onto the producer, because, as they often claim, 'tainted' meat is most likely caused by the packer. It doesn't seem as if a few simple words on a label would have much cost, but government regulations are so detailed that it is very costly, easy to err, and then be heavily fined for 'false infomation'. Why have we forgotten that often enough to cause labelling nightmares, calves are sold by Mexican or Canadian producers to Stocker producers in the USA to utilize our native pastures, fed in USA feedlots, and harvested in USA packing plants? Also, there are packing plants near the Canadian border which have been able to remain in business by processing Canadian born and raised cattle when there are not enough cattle in the particular part of the USA to keep them in business. COOL harms that good system. Then, there is the fact that a large number of Canadian born/raised-fed, then processed in the USA beef crosses that Canadian border once again to be sold in Canada. What happens to the USA workers and businesses harmed by losing, or making more costly, those business processes??? And all the while, our diversified 'branded beef' labels we already have provides many choices of source verified beef!!!!!

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